U.S. Job Market Overview
Job seekers in 2015 will continue to face a challenging job market, although increased hiring and wages may be seen if the economy continues the improvements seen in late 2014 and confidence in both consumer and business areas increase. Many types of employers have restructured and downsized thanks to the deep financial crisis of 2007-09. By 2011, most employers had pushed productivity about as far as they could, to the point that significant future growth in business will require a larger number of new employees. Some of the business sectors that were hardest hit had stabilized in 2013 - 2014. For example, automobile sales are significantly higher than they were during the recent recession, banks are more stable and the home building business was enjoying good sales through mid-2014.
However, as 2014 was ending, the global economy was dealing with a very difficult financial and business environment in Europe, a slowdown in global trade and slowing economies in important emerging nations such as India, Brazil and China. These problems will have an effect on employment in the U.S. over the next several months.
On the positive side, as of late 2014, stock markets had reached impressive highs, house values had bounced back in most American cities and consumers had shed considerable amounts of debt. These conditions bode well for business and employment growth at some point in the future.
Meanwhile, job seekers who want good positions with good pay must be extremely well prepared. A large part of the preparation requires that they do meaningful research into prospective employers and the industries in which they operate. The fact remains that there were 9 million Americans unemployed at the end of 2014 and several million more who considered themselves underemployed. Competition for job openings will remain fierce. Many companies receive hundreds or even thousands of resumes for every job opening. Simply sending in a resume and hoping for the best is not enough for a successful job search.
The good news is that a select set of employers and growth companies will offer good job opportunities. Sectors such as cloud computing and health care will continue to grow and hire. A few companies with exciting new technologies or cost-saving services will see terrific growth. Salesforce.com, a highly innovative provider of online business services, has been a good example.
Solid companies that do a terrific job of providing the day-to-day needs of consumers and business will continue to hire—Costco, Amazon.com and Southwest Airlines are good examples. Other industry sectors that fall into this category include insurance firms such as USAA and The Progressive Corporation, along with online services and apps that provide efficient or new ways for consumers and businesses to make purchases, gather data or view entertainment and news.
Oil and gas exploration and production were a very bright for hiring through the early fall of 2014. However, a plummet in oil prices have put an end, at least for the near-term, to the recent oil industry boom. In early 2015, energy companies large and small will be announcing layoffs and planning cutbacks on spending. Meanwhile, low oil prices mean low gasoline prices at the pump. This will provide a significant boost to consumer spending that will be seen at restaurants, stores, e-commerce and automobile dealers.
Growing numbers of consumers will prefer to buy from firms that sell goods and services online, offering savings of time, money and car travel. This boosts companies like Amazon.com that offer low prices combined with deep selections and great customer service. Virtually all major retailers, including giants like Wal-Mart and Home Depot, are working hard to provide better online services and choices to their customers.
The travel industry has been enjoying tremendous growth in revenues over the past few years. Airlines are in better financial shape than they were in the recent past. Many have shed debt through bankruptcy and successfully reorganized as more financially stable companies. Hotels are enjoying high occupancy rates. Meanwhile, travel has become the single most successful sector at selling products and services via the Internet.
The automobile sector is booming. New cars have been selling very well in recent months, and hiring has been strong at car dealers and manufacturers alike.
Americans who find themselves in the market for a job will need to understand the changes surging through the economy in order to determine which companies to pursue and which to avoid. The U.S. employment market has evolved dramatically, and job seekers must be both knowledgeable and nimble in order to position themselves to find promising careers.
In order to create a robust job market, corporate investment, profits, productivity and revenues must align themselves correctly. These economic indicators were positive during the 2003 to mid-2007 period, and millions of new American jobs were created. As 2007 was winding down, the residential real estate crash, high levels of consumer debt and difficult credit markets were combining to restrain the economy. Vast numbers of workers were laid off across virtually all types of industries, and hiring slowed to a trickle. One of the results of this tough recession was a new emphasis on increased productivity and cost-effectiveness at employers of most types, and that focus remained very much in effect at the end of 2014.
During 2015, executives will be under the usual pressure to maintain profitability. If the economy sees significant growth, managers will be encouraged to increase hiring. Meanwhile, many major corporations are sitting on huge piles of cash. When CEOs become more confident about the future, that cash could fuel job-creating investments.
The bottom line for 2015 is that America’s job market is looking better than it has in recent years, and job seekers, including new college grads, should see a reasonable level of potential openings. There will be good job opportunities for those who are diligent in seeking top employers in most business sectors.
Economic Factors Affecting the Job Market
Business Productivity: Productivity growth has been positive in recent years, but the increases have been modest. That is, business can be produced—whether it is goods or services—by utilizing fewer workers than before. This will be extremely beneficial to the U.S. economy in the long run, but it can hurt the job market over the short term. Productivity is boosted by new technologies, improved management methods and other factors, sometimes as simple as reorganizing the staff and redesigning the workflow to increase output. It can also receive a quick boost from restrained corporate hiring. If rising productivity occurs along with rapidly rising sales and profits, then the job market will improve.
Corporate Sales: A trend of rising sales encourages hiring. Reasonable sales growth in 2015 could lead to increased hiring. It remains to be seen whether this will occur.
Corporate Profits: When profits increase sharply, companies are inclined to increase both business investment and hiring. Corporate profits were strong during 2010-14. However, there is still a high level of uncertainty about America's economic future. Much of recent corporate profitability was the result of restrained spending and hiring. Hiring will rebound when corporate sales, and accompanying profits, show significant growth, encouraging executives to forecast an extended period of increased demand for their products and services.
In order to compete effectively in today’s job market, one of the most important things you can do is arm yourself with knowledge. It is vital for the job seeker to use the best reference tools possible in order to seek out employers that offer a reasonable balance of financial stability, opportunities for advancement and good pay. Excellent job opportunities always exist if you know where to look. Many of America’s most successful firms currently need large numbers of new employees.
Thousands of companies, in technical and non-technical sectors, will need large numbers of new hires. In particular, companies that offer products or services that save time and/or money will prosper—for example, many types of companies that offer services that help businesses operate more efficiently, will be hiring. Meanwhile, large companies that are not increasing their overall numbers of employees will be hiring on a regular basis due to normal attrition—that is, the loss of employees due to retirement, relocation or other personal circumstances. For example, massive companies like Walgreen’s or Kroger typically need to hire tens of thousands of workers yearly due to normal attrition.